Colin O'Riordan Trust

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 5:42 pm on 24th January 2002.

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Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour 5:42 pm, 24th January 2002

Nothing has changed.

Those identities are important to young people. I agree with the comments that Margo MacDonald and Brian Fitzpatrick made about the personal development that being involved in music allows young people.

As well as talking about the importance of Colin O'Riordan's work, I also want to stress the importance of the work that was done at individual school level across Edinburgh. It was that that let us come together as an orchestra. As students, we did not have any appreciation of the effort that was needed to achieve that, or of the individual relationships between peripatetic music teachers, who had to cover the whole city, and the other people in the schools where they taught.

Such teachers have a different relationship with their schools from that of the average teacher. They certainly do not get lots of praise at the time from the school students that they teach. They would get that praise only some years later. School students, as everyone knows, are not the most flattering people and never appreciate how much extra effort it takes to run an orchestra. Kids take it for granted that teachers are happy to stay on after school and to take them across the city.

That is why I am pleased to be able to speak in tonight's debate, many years on. Although we were not personally appreciative at the time, I am sure that Colin was able to tell how much we were enjoying ourselves when we were playing. It was quite exciting for us to be able to come together as part of an orchestra and play Mussorgsky, whom most of us had never heard of until we were in the orchestra. It gave us a real sense of purpose and gave all of us the chance to develop a love of music and a personal confidence. There is a liberation in being able to understand how music fits together, to be part of an orchestra and to play one's part. That is something that is incredibly important. I acknowledge the important role that the Edinburgh Secondary Schools Orchestra played at the time. It built on the backbone of work done in individual schools across Edinburgh and made us proud to be able to come together.

At Christmas, I was pleased to be able to attend the Royal High School choir's performance of Christmas carols in the Parliament canteen. All the Edinburgh schools are still putting their orchestras and choirs together. As Brian Monteith said, that is still a core part of education and is important.

It is superb that Colin O'Riordan's family and friends have put together a trust. Not only does it let his name live on, it also allows some practical work to flow from that. It continues to enable there to be a stimulation of interest in and access to music by young people. That is superb, and that is mentioned in the first point of Angus MacKay's motion.

The trust also addresses the practicalities of allowing young people to have access to instruments. That sounds like the kind of thing that one would take for granted, but musical instruments are not cheap. The cost of a new bassoon these days, for example, is not cheap. It is not simply a case of buying a new instrument when a child starts to learn. They might start off with a battered trumpet or a pretty ropy clarinet, but there comes a point at which the child can play the instrument. To be able to play a good instrument is sometimes what lifts people up from being talented amateurs to being the kind of people Brian Fitzpatrick mentioned, who can make a life and career out of music.

I am glad to support the establishment of the trust. I hope that, in addition to the fund-raising concert, the fact that we are having a debate on it will raise the profile of the trust, give it a boost and let more people know about it. I congratulate Angus MacKay on securing the debate and thank him for allowing us to pay tribute to Colin O'Riordan and give our collective support to the establishment of the trust and the work that we hope it will do for young people across the city.